While researching violence in Peru, Connaught Public Impact Fellow helps community find joy

Connaught Public Impact Fellow (2022-23) and Sociology PhD candidate Andrea Román Alfaro was recently featured on U of T News, where she spoke to writer Cynthia Macdonald about her research on violence in her Peruvian hometown and the importance of mobilizing her scholarship for the betterment of the community.

“My interest in doing this research comes from the fact that I grew up hearing people say ‘Oh, Callao is so dangerous,’” said Román Alfaro. “So that is how I got interested in the topic – trying to understand how violence works there. How people understand it, how they respond to it and how they survive it.”

Macdonald writes that Román Alfaro’s ethnographic research covers the entire ecosystem of violence, from politicians and police on one end to marginalized citizens on the other. Her work focuses in particular on two groups: women and young people. She is also taking steps to bring hope to Puerto Nuevo’s youth through an innovative arts program.

Román Alfaro is an advocate of participatory action research, where scholars seek to improve an environment while learning about it.

“I can’t get involved with people and do nothing about their problems,” Román Alfaro said. “My research can’t just be knowledge for knowledge’s sake – and that’s especially true when you research violence. I can’t exist in a world with this much suffering and not do anything.”

Read the full story on U of T News.

The Connaught PhDs for Public Impact Fellowship Program was launched in Fall 2022 and offers $12,500 to PhD students who are seeking to engage the public through a scholarly agenda. Fellows also participate in a broader program of specialized skills training in public scholarship culminating in an annual showcase of their research. Learn more on our website.

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